Connecticut’s largest business association is launching a statewide advertising blitz to exert its voice in the political debate in the aftermath of the state’s primaries as the focus turns to the November elections. CBIA will on focus on raising public awareness of what it describes as the critical issues and challenges impacting the state's economic future and job growth. The campaign, called “Fix Connecticut” will include digital, broadcast, and print advertising and will run into the 2019 General Assembly session and beyond, officials said. It includes a website, fixconnecticut.com, and a video that acknowledges some progress made since the 2016 election, noting that "our state's economy is better than it was," but stresses that "we have a long way to go."
“High taxes, job growth, and a sluggish economy are the top concerns for Connecticut residents and must be priorities for lawmakers and candidates for elected office," CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan said, echoing the video's urging "we need lawmakers that have a plan" to make the state more affordable, cut state spending and "help us compete with other states in the region."
The advertising campaign may also serve as a precursor to anticipated endorsements of candidates by CBIA in statewide and local legislative races. In 2016, CBIA endorsed candidates in 22 of 36 State Senate races, urging the election of 4 Democrats and 18 Republicans. There were also endorsements made in 85 of 151 House districts, including 23 Democrat and 62 Republican candidates. Those endorsements came in mid-September two years ago.
“Lawmakers and candidates must understand what really matters to Connecticut and we want residents to understand how critical these issues are to the state's economic future,” Brennan added. “We want to make sure those issues are front and center during what we believe is a make-or-break time for Connecticut.
The Fix Connecticut campaign centers on a five-point plan that outlines key policy steps designed to remove barriers to economic growth and leverage the state's many strengths, according to CBIA:
- Prioritize Economic and Job Growth. Help businesses compete for talent, expand private-public workforce development initiatives, and continue strengthening high school and college programs to meet the needs of our 21st century economy. The best way to solve the state's fiscal problems is to grow the economy.
- Cut State Spending. Reduce the size and cost of government, privatize appropriate state services, expand the use of non-profit agencies, and put the brakes on spiraling overtime costs.
- Make Connecticut More Affordable. That starts with lowering taxes. Connecticut's personal income, business, and property tax burden is one of the highest in the country—a key factor behind the state's population decline, including the loss of billions of dollars in income.
- Reform the State Employment Retirement System. Align state employee compensation and benefits with Northeast states' public sectors and the private sector and end the use of overtime in calculating pensions.
- Improve Connecticut's Business Climate. Reject costly, burdensome workplace mandates, cut unnecessary red tape, block new taxes and fees that drive up healthcare costs, reform the state's unemployment compensation system, and overhaul transportation infrastructure.
"State lawmakers' actions have a far greater impact on our daily lives, our workplaces, and our economy than decisions that are made at the federal level. With so much attention on national politics, we cannot lose sight of the critical issues impacting Connecticut,” Brennan pointed out, noting that the campaign will complement CBIA's advocacy efforts during the next legislative session, which begins in January.